The amount of software used within businesses - both developed in-house and purchased from external suppliers - is growing all the time, and this is putting huge pressure on chief information officers (CIOs) to effectively manage this growing sprawl.
Indeed, the number of applications in use increased by 68% between 2015 and 2019, with the average firm now deploying 129 different software solutions - though, for one in ten firms, this number rises to over 200. Meanwhile, Gartner forecasts that in 2020, over $500 billion will be spent worldwide on enterprise software, with cloud solutions especially popular.
The risks posed by more complex software
However, while this growing use of software will drive productivity, it’s not without its risks. Today's applications are more complex than ever, with millions of lines of code. In fact, today's key software systems contain more code than that used in an F-35 fighter jet.
This software manages almost every aspect of our lives, from everyday office activities to transport networks and emergency services, and if there are problems within this software that could leave firms exposed to security breaches or errors that see businesses grind to a halt.
Whether it's zero-day security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers or undocumented features and bugs that can create holes IT teams won't even know about, the business implications of a failure can be immense.
Therefore, making the right choices when you select your software is essential in keeping businesses safe and operational in this digital-first environment. So what should CIOs be looking at to ensure they can keep their risks as low as possible while still giving employees the tools they need to be successful?
Understand the source code
The first step should always be to compile a full inventory of all source code, including full erosion control and backup procedures. Having this on hand is vital in establishing a baseline from which future maintenance and modernization efforts can be built.
Without this resource, it’ll be much more difficult for IT professionals to build tools and cross-platform functionality. They’ll also not be able to perform real-time analytics on software health and performance, which is essential for effective reporting and faster responses to any incidents.
Having a comprehensive insight into what is within your portfolio provides you with the most relevant information to help determine what your applications are doing, understand how they interact and work together, and identify where any redundancies lie.
Address compliance risks
Compliance is a major headache for every business in today's environment, and unmanaged software can be one of the most common reasons for a failure to meet these requirements, especially in an environment where rules such as GDPR place the highest priority on data privacy.
As a result, CIOs are frequently expected to report on the steps they're taking to protect the most sensitive data. This can create a large amount of work for IT pros as they have to research their software tools and undertake discovery to answer these queries to ensure the software they've chosen can meet expectations.
Having access to the right tools and methods to identify specific characteristics of software in a timely manner not only helps minimize your firm's risk, but can make a big difference in the speed and efficiency of your software deployments.
Ensure applications are cloud ready
As Gartner notes, spending on areas such as Software-as-a-Service will be a top priority for many firms in the coming years. However, this will leave businesses with many decisions to make about which of their existing software solutions should be migrated to the cloud as a priority.
This will involve evaluating each piece of software and determining how quick and easy it’ll be to move to the cloud. While some applications can be ported directly, others may require significant rearchitecting, or even need to be replaced entirely.
Understanding how each app will perform and function in a cloud environment before it’s migrated - taking into account factors such as security, quality of service, reliability and the impact it’ll have on business performance - minimizes the risk of costly failures during migration processes and ensures that any move to cloud software is as seamless as possible.